Sunday, May 25, 2008

Simply Living

While living in Calgary I came to the conclusion that Ben and I had far too much stuff - especially for people who had only been married about a year. Our apartment was full, our storage was full, and there always seemed to be something on the floor to trip over.

The odd thing about having all that stuff was that the vast majority of it was not being used. That's not to say it was useless, it just wasn't serving any purpose in our lives.

So I did what any rational person would do - packed it away and ignored it until we moved and I had to do something about it.

Since then we've taken on a philosophy of simple living - trying very hard not to have excess, to reuse as much as possible, to buy second hand when available, and to purge as needed.

It basically goes like this - if I see something I *think* we need, we wait a month or so to see if we can still happily live without it, or if it really would make our lives better. This is a great way to avoid spending money on gadgets.

Secondly, if I notice something in our home is just taking up space, I box it up and put it in storage. If it stays in storage for a year without being missed and doesn't have any future use (such as books and toys for Hana when she's older), then it's already conveniently boxed up and ready to go to Goodwill etc.

Thirdly, we get accountability with our "problem areas" - for me it's yarn and books, and for Ben it's electronics and games. There are very strict rules about those things coming into the house, usually involving a bit of "one in, two out" philosophy. It's hard - especially for books because in my family it was basically a crime to get rid of a book - but it does keep things under control a bit.

I admit we're not perfect at this yet, but we're learning. Even right now I'm looking at our tower of rarely watched DVDs and wondering if it's time to clean house a bit. Anyone else have any tips on how to avoid excess in life and keep it simple?


K-dog said...

We have the same philosophy here. Our general rule is that if we haven't used it in 6 months then it goes. This goes for clothes, household items, etc etc...with the exception of seasonal items.

I'm an organizing junkie and will be posting some thought on my blog today or tomorrow. Feel free to visit it for more ideas - b/c we all know it takes a village....

Steph said...

I'd love some organization ideas! Getting organized takes far more energy than I am able to spare right now, which is another plus to not having excess - less things to have to figure out!

Dena said...

My best tip for decluttering-make a cross continental move. We moved with no more than four suitcases. 'Course we already have way too much stuff now, ha ha.

A real tip Ell told me. Turn all the clothes hangers in your closet around backwards. As you wear an item and replace it in the closet, turn the hanger back the normal way. After six months (or the end of a season) all hangers still the opposite way go to Goodwill.

Looking forward to your tips, Kristi!

Maria Purviance said...

we have too much stuff now. i liked this post. it has helped me to see that i need to get rid of more stuff. of course, that will have to wait until after the move.

echoeslikehorses said...

That's such a great idea, and something I aspire to... although the thought of having to get rid of *two* books for every new one makes me break out in a cold sweat! Our house is full of clutter we don't really need, including several bags/boxes of things we haven't got round to taking to the charity shop yet. It doesn't help that I can't drive. Maybe I'll just Freecycle them instead.

Anyway, I just wanted to say good for you, and best of luck!